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[Review] Katatonia - City Burials

Review : James Schmidt

For me Katatonia are a main stay within my music collection, ever since I heard the song Deadhouse on a Century Media sampler in the late 90’s I’ve been a massive fan and they have never disappointed.

Coming off a 4-year hiatus after the release of the stellar “Fall of Hearts”, “City Burials” is a true statement of intent and the crowning achievement of an almost 30 year career.  There are few bands of their era who have managed the transformation that Katatonia have made and managed to gather more respect in the process.  Whilst always maintaining their metal roots, Katatonia have shaped and moulded their sound to incorporate elements of electronica, goth and pop to create some of the most beautiful melancholy ever recorded.

Katatonia are instantly recognisable from the opening of “Heart Set to Divide”.  Jonas’ delicate voice is like no other in metal, the man manages to constantly sound on the brink of tears.

“Behind the Blood” (the second single off the album) is probably the most metal sounding Katatonia song since “Viva Emptiness’” opening track “Ghost of the Sun”.  Behind the Blood” includes some shredding guitar work mixed with one of the most souring chorus’ you’ll here this year.  For that reason, its probably my pick for the best song on the album.

Lead single “Lacquer” captures everything great about Katatonia, beauty, darkness, hope and despair.  All of this wrapped in a dense electronic shell that washes over you like a wave, they even manage to make a song without any discernible guitars massively heavy and wonderfully dense.

“The Winter of our Passing” almost gallops out of the gates, and along with “Rein”, City Glaciers” and “Flicker”, build and swirl into a colossal wall of sound before dropping back to sparse soundscapes then building again to glorious crescendos.

“Vanishers” and “Lachesis” provide the album’s quieter reflective moments hearkening back to the band’s “Dethroned and Uncrowned” album (a re imagining of the “Dead End Kings” Album).

I can’t think of better album closers than “Neon Epitaph” and “Untrodden” both master classes in modern prog metal.

Katatonia have never been a band that does what people expect of them, but they also always sound like no other band on earth (plenty have however copied). 

In a year that has given us very little to be positive about, there really isn’t anything like beautiful bleak melancholy to lift our spirits.  I for one am in a much better spot having gotten my hands on the latest Katatonia album, I hope that you all will feel the same way when it comes out on the 24th of April.

Pre order 'City Burials' HERE:

Photo credit: Ester Segarra

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